Meet Mbabazi, Rwanda's rising film star

Fast-rising film star, Philbert Aime Mbabazi is the co-founder of Kalinga Wave Pictures, a local film production company, located at Kigali City Tower, (KCT).
Philbert Aime Mbabazi (middle) and his crew on a set during a shooting session. (Courtesy).
Philbert Aime Mbabazi (middle) and his crew on a set during a shooting session. (Courtesy).

Fast-rising film star, Philbert Aime Mbabazi is the co-founder of Kalinga Wave Pictures, a local film production company, located at Kigali City Tower, (KCT).

His current project titled, Nine Letters, was shortlisted in Egypt among the five feature films to get development funds. The 24-year-old Mbabazi told The New Times that his journey of writing started at the Kagugu-based SOS Hermann Gmeiner Technical High School, where he was a student.

“I used to write for the monthly school magazine and also read news on the assembly. It’s from here that I learnt how to package information through satirical writing,” says the IT student, who wasn’t fortunate enough to complete his education pursuit.

Two of his short movies, City Dropout and Crossing Lines, have so far won awards. The former won the Silverback award in 2014, while the latter won the Mashariki award, early this year. His first film, Ruhago, brought him in touch with American screenwriter, Malia Scotch Marmo.

“I and five other film writers are now working with Malia on a series of short films,” Mbabazi says, adding that he is now looking for an international producer to work with.

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Philbert Aime Mbabazi on set during a shooting session.

In 2012, Mbabazi won an Award in Zanzibar for the Best Emerging Film Director in East Africa. In March this year, he scooped the Upcoming African Film Director award in Belgium.

Mbabazi, however, admits that the local film industry is still in its infant stage and that Rwandans should stop comparing it with Hollywood.  He observes that it’s the next generation – not the current one – that will propel and reap from the industry.

“We need critical thinkers who will take us to an advanced intellectual level. And those are kids still in school… children who read and write critically at an early stage,” he says.

To him, acting opens employment opportunities if the industry is big and supported. “Look at the many unemployed youth but who can act. Plus the beauty of this country… we have some basics to start with.”

Mbabazi cites an example of Ezra, a 2004 Sierra Leonean film that was shot here (Rwanda) and starring some Rwandan actors.

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